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by Tim Beissmann

Volvo is developing three different range-extending electric vehicle prototypes to investigate the most effective ways of implementing hybrid technology.

Volvo Car Corporation vice president powertrain engineering, Derek Crabb, said Volvo believed range-extending EVs (RE-EVs) were a necessary stepping stone between internal combustion engine-powered cars and full electrics.

“This is an exciting expansion of our increasing focus on electrification,” Mr Crabb said.

“Battery cost and size mean that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. With the range extender, the electric car has its effective range increased by 1000 kilometres – yet with carbon dioxide emissions below or way below 50 g/km.”

The three RE-EV concepts all incorporate a three-cylinder petrol (also E85 ethanol compatible) engine and an electric front-wheel drive system.

Technical concept I is the Volvo C30 with series-connected range extender. A 45kW petrol engine is positioned beneath the boot, and the car is fitted with a 40-litre fuel tank. The combustion engine is connected to a 40kW generator, which can either drive the car’s 82kW electric motor or charge the battery to increase its range. Total vehicle range will be in excess of 1100km.

Technical concept II is the Volvo C30 with parallel-connected range extender. In this concept, the turbocharged combustion engine produces 140kW of power. The rear-mounted engine primarily drives the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.

The engine can also be used to charge the 40kW generator, which in turn can charge the battery to allow the car to operate in electric-only mode. Combined with the 82kW electric motor, the car’s maximum power output is around 220kW, and it will accelerate from 0-100km/h in less than six seconds.

Technical Concept III is the Volvo V60 with parallel-connected range extender. The entire drive package, including the 82kW electric motor, 140kW turbocharged combustion engine, 40kW generator and a two-stage automatic transmission, are housed under the bonnet at the front.

Power from the engine drives the front wheels via the gearbox and recharges the battery pack whenever needed. At speeds below 50km/h, the car operates in electric-only mode, with the engine kicking in at higher speeds. It has an electric range of 50km, and when the battery’s charge drops below a predetermined level, it starts to recharge.

Volvo will start testing the vehicles at the beginning of 2012.

What do you think of the concepts? Does one stand out as a more appealing solution that the others? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.




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